The Toronto Blue Jays have agreed to terms on a minor-league deal with free agent catcher Mike Ohlamn, a source confirmed earlier today.
Ohlman was selected in the 11th round in 2009 by the Baltimore Orioles, much later than his talent warranted, but was signed away from a commitment to the University of Miami with a w $995,000 bonus.
The towering catcher cracked the Orioles’ top-10 prospect list (Baseball America, No. 9) following the 2013 season. That year, Ohlman put up a slash line of .313 / .410 / .524 (.934 OPS) with 13 home runs for advanced-A Frederick as a 22-year-old.
Prior to the 2015 season, Ohlman was designated for assignment by the Orioles as they needed a roster spot for Travis Snider. He was dealt to the St. Louis Cardinals for cash considerations, then following this season, elected free agency after being outrighted.
In 2016, Ohlman split 78 games between double-A and triple-A where he hit .287 with a .344 on-base percentage and a .778 OPS.
Ohlman was given 11 starts at first base at the double-A level, which is where some scouts project him long-term. He does offer a quality arm strength tool behind the plate.
Between Ohlman’s youth, raw talent, and built-in physical gifts (his size), this is a very enticing pickup for an organization that remains relatively thin when it comes to upper-minors catching depth. A.J. Jimenez is currently projected as Russell Martin‘s backup barring additional moves, and there is also plenty of opportunity with triple-A Buffalo at first base. Rowdy Tellez is expected to start there, but if Ohlman’s bat can be maximized, he could earn reserve reps there.
Despite Ohlman’s size, he does not necessarily “max out” his swing for an all-power approach. His stroke is much shorter than one would expect from a player with long arms, and his lower body remains fairly quiet in relation to his power.